When a whole community is under armed attack, as Sikhs are today in India, remembering similar fate of other minorities particularly the Muslims resulting in the breakup of the subcontinent in 1947, does not provide much comfort. Nevertheless, there are ample precedents in recent Indian history of the current predicament of the Sikhs. Distinguished historians and journalists have graphically described, often firsthand accounts, of callous injustice of Hindu against religious minorities.
For example, L.F. Love day, a British Professor at Aitcheson College, Lahore who spent considerable time in India before 1947, writes in a 1952 book entitled “Punjab Interlude’ (John Murray Publishers, London):
“It is as well not to be taken in by the political utterances of Hindustan, for its spokesmen are men who have no idea of objective truth but believe absolutely in what they want (p. 209) Hindustan is openly out to secure the “lead” in the East. She is in the grip of boundlessly ambitious mix, Hindustan occupies the only bit of Kashmir worth having the Vale. She occupies it by the army and maintains her troops by air and by a new road from Pathan kot to Jammu City. All this because Mr. Nehru is a Kashmir Brahman. Hindustan herself began aggression, in Junagadh. Junagadh has a Muslim ruler and a 90% Hindu population. The ruler opted for Pakistan. Pakistan unfortunately welcomed the accession: Hindustan claimed the population. Pakistan climbed down as gracefully as possible. But Hindustan, to make sure, not trusting to justice because her politicians, being Hindus, cannot believe in anything so democratic as justice marched up her troops and stood some warships off the coast. In the similar case of Hyderabad, she fought a campaign to secure the state. In Kashmir, the ruler was Hindu, the people 90% Muslim, and 60% Muslim in Jammu, and the ruler opted for Hindustan. By analogy, Hindustan should have let the state rulers go to Pakistan. She has not done so: Mr. Nehru personally wants the Vale for his Brahman brothers. Those acts are not the acts of a just or honest people.”
“However, like Hitler, Mr. Nehru and the Hindus believe that if you say black is white loudly and long enough, you can fool people into accepting it for truth and certainly the success the Hindus have had with our (British) Intelligentsia would seem to bear them out. (p. 210).
“Hinduism cannot (adjust to a modern world). This religion of seedy cows, all-licensed bulls, images, temples and taboos, this ethic of child marriage, widow-burning, holy murder by strangling, pollution and ritual purification, will finally collapse in spite of the powerful junta of reactionaries. For not even the reactionaries believe in this religion: they believe in a secure position for themselves at the top of a securely stratified social order. There will be a quest for a new ethic and a new authority.” (P. 211).
And then, there is the powerful narration by the veteran Hindu journalist, Kuldip Nayar, in a book entitled ‘‘Distant Neighbors. A tale of the Subcontinent’ (1972, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.), he writes:
“In Pakistan, people on 14 August celebrate their deliverance not so much from British rule as from the fear of Hindu rule. During my trips to that country, I have heard people say that they are happy that at least they have “some place” where they feel secure, free of ‘“‘Hindu domination” or “Hindu aggressiveness.”’ (P. vii).
“I tried to argue for a United India’ Mountbatten told Nayer. “But Jinnah had replied that even though nothing would have given him greater pleasure than to see such unity, it was the behavior of the Hindus that had made it impossible for the Muslims to share it. Being in a minority in India as a whole, they were troubled by the fear that their position and status in an Independent India would not be secure.”’ (P. 3). Obviously the Sikhs were duped by false assurances of Nehru and Gandhi at the time of the partition. Even the intensely Nationalist, Maulans Abul Kalam Azad in his book “India Wins Freedom” blamed Nehru for his arbitrary intransigence in 1937 that Muslim League “shall cease to function as a separate group” (Nayar, P. 8). This intransigence was not much different from Indira Gandhi Government’s latter actions denying the Sikhs even a distinct religious status at par with other religions. ‘‘If the minorities felt insecure, Jinnah warned (in his 14 point Program) the inevitable result would be “revolution and civil war” (Nayar, P. 9). This is precisely what happened in 1947 leading to the partition of the Indian sub-continent. Of course, the maltreatment of Sikhs since 1947 culminating in their genocide in 1984 is simply history repeating itself and the impulse of Hindus to either absorb or exterminate minorities, particularly the vocal ones who have the courage to ask for justice and equity.
Further more the perception of the Muslims before partition of India that even Mahatma Gandhi was “fighting for supremacy of Hinduism and the submergence of Muslims” (Nayar, P. 10) is not different from how Sikhs have felt about Indira Gandhi. The perception of Hindu domination of Muslims became so utterly pervasive that “while in the 1937 elections, the League won 57 out of the 482 Muslim seats in 1] provinces, a decade later, in 1946, it won all over: 116 seats out of 119 in Bengal; 43 out of 50 in Bihar; 54 out of 61 in U.P.; 34 out of 34 in Sind; and so on. Once the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity, Jinnah was now an inveterate separatist. He said in his Presidential Address to the Luck now meeting in 1937 that the Congress Governments were ‘“‘pursuing a policy which is exclusively Hindu”’ and that “‘the Musalmans cannot expect any justice or fair play at their hands.’’ Even the famous Pirpur Report concluded that ‘“‘the Congress failed in spite of its oft-repeated resolution of guaranteeing religious and cultural liberty to the various communities because its actions are not in conformity with its words.” (Nayar, P. 12).
In 1946, the Congress Party of which Maulana Azad was the President, agreed to the so-called Cabinet Mission Plan of “g Federal Constitution which will give full autonomy to the provinces except in three subjects: Defense, Foreign Affairs and Communications. “The provinces would be free to develop as they wanted to and, at the same time, could influence the center on all issues that affected India as a whole.” This is comparable to the Anandpur Sahib Resolution of State Autonomy for Punjab espoused by Akali Dal during the last few years. This concept was approved by both Gandhi and Nehru. The Cabinet Mission plan was formally accepted by the Muslim League on 6 June and by the Congress on 25 June 1946. However, after this plan was even ratified by the All-India Congress Committee on 6 July 1946, Nehru, who had by then replaced Maulana Azad as the Congress President, sought to unilaterally modify the plan to which not only Jinnah but Azad protested also. This led to a call for Direct Action by Jinnah “since the Congress had treated with ‘Defiance and Contempt’ a carefully worked out Cabinet Mission plan. (Nayar, P. 33). The rest is history. Thus, the Congress Party rulers were responsible for creation of Pakistan. Also, “one has to remember that Bangladesh was created not by Sheikh Mujib but by the rulers of Pakistan such as Yahya Khan.”’ (Sinha et al. 1984, P. 21).
Unquestionably, the intensity with which Sikhs today are clamoring for an independent, sovereign state is not because of any long standing desire to secede, the false Government of India propaganda notwithstanding, but rather from a conviction that such an independent status is necessary to assure their survival as a religious minority. The actions of the Government of India of the last six months sanctioned by the majority community, have made Sikhs aliens in a land, they long have regarded as their own and one that they have long
Protected by blood, sweat and tears.